This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables are a useful way to look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, to get the most out of the tables, it’s important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.
Introduction: Findings from studies on alcohol and breast cancer recurrence (a return of breast cancer) and survival are mixed.
Some findings suggest breast cancer survivors who drink alcohol after diagnosis have an increased risk of recurrence and breast cancer mortality (death from breast cancer).
Other studies have shown no difference in recurrence or breast cancer mortality between those who drink alcohol in moderation (less than 1 drink a day for women) and those who are non-drinkers.
One reason for these mixed findings may be that drinking in moderation has some health benefits. It may lower the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure and overall mortality (death from any cause) [1-2].
Excessive alcohol drinking has no health benefits, only health risks.
Learn more about alcohol and breast cancer survival.
Learn about alcohol and breast cancer risk.
Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of studies.
Study selection criteria: Prospective cohort studies with at least 1,000 participants, pooled and meta-analyses.
All studies measured alcohol intake after breast cancer diagnosis. Table note: Relative risk above 1 indicates increased risk. Relative risk below 1 indicates decreased risk.
StudyPopulation(number of participants)
Survivors Who Drank Moderate Amounts of Alcohol versus Survivors Who Were Non-drinkers, RR (95% CI)
Breast Cancer Recurrence
Breast Cancer Mortality
Prospective cohort studies
Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study 
Collaborative Women’s Longevity Study 
WHEL Study 
LACE Study 
Breast Cancer Family Registry - New York 
Pooled and meta-analyses
After Breast Cancer Pooling Project [8-9]
Gou et al. 
* Among survivors who were diagnosed with breast cancer after menopause, women who drank 4 or more alcoholic drinks a week had an increased risk of recurrence compared to non-drinkers, 1.19 (1.01-1.40).
Among survivors who had estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers, those who drank 7 or more alcoholic drinks a week had an increased risk of late recurrence (5 or more years after diagnosis) compared to non-drinkers, 1.28 (1.01-1.62).
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